Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Trends 2004 Cold Japanese River
Japan is now considered the " Empire of Cool ." I have to admit, I do have a weakness for Japanese toys, food, and artwork.
Japan is reinventing itself -- this time as the coolest nation on Earth. Analysts are marveling at the breadth of a recent explosion in cultural exports, and many argue that the international embrace of Japan.

· If it's Japanese, the world wants it: Japan is hot [blatantly pinched from Looking at what's on eBay to determine the health of the economy ]
· Generation E.A.: Ethnically Ambiguous [ via Swing Voter]
Everybody who lives in New York (Sydney), (Praha) believes he’s here for some purpose, whether he does anything about it or not.
Arlene Croce, Afterimages

About Last Night has lived in New York for the better part of two decades now, and you'd think he'd have gotten used to it.
In a way, I suppose I have, but even now all it takes is a whiff of the unexpected and I catch myself boggling at that which the native New Yorker really does take for granted. As for my visits to Smalltown, U.S.A., they invariably leave me feeling like yesterday's immigrant, marveling at things no small-town boy can ever really dismiss as commonplace, no matter how long he lives in the capital of the world...
· Poland is the most pro-Amerikan country in the world — including the United States [ courtesy of The most desirable places to live in Amerika ]

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Polution free cities Alternative Transport
Green ideas for 2004...
· Online Gas Scooters [ via Cheap Electric Scooters ]

Santaless Cities
If we were physical we would have killed each other. In 1986, she quit and didn't speak to her father for nearly a year.
· Then they resumed talking, at high volume... [ courtesy of Murthy ]
· Familiar Families [blatantly pinched from Amerikan v Prahe]

Monday, December 29, 2003

The Journalism of Complacency
I know this sounds both personally naïve and institutionally self-serving - after all, I've been a journalist for 40 years, 35 of them with The Times - and I'm aware of not just the blatant betrayals of the public interest by the likes of Blair and Glass but the more systemic, more damaging betrayals represented by what I've come to think of as the four horsemen of the journalistic apocalypse: superficiality, sensationalism, preoccupation with celebrity, and obsession with the bottom line.
· Journalists who are among the comfortable and therefore not among those who wish the afflict the comfortable [ courtesy of TimPorter ]
· Paul Krugman posits a few rules for political journalists in 2004 history will not forgive us if we allow laziness to rule [ courtesy of An Australian journalist gets a taste of Department of Homeland Security hospitality ]
Delinquent Taxes Unpenalized
Michael Mansur of the Kansas City Star confirms a longstanding tradition in Jackson County, Missouri: giving delinquent taxpayers a break instead of penalties and interest. "It is unclear exactly how much tax money the county is forgiving, because it has failed to keep track of the waivers. The Star's review of about 100 of the roughly 31,000 delinquent properties in Jackson County found that nearly one-third were granted waivers totaling more than $180,000 since 1999." State officials questioned whether waiving such fees was legal, and the county is now reviewing its practices.
· One-third were granted waivers [ via Scoop]

Sunday, December 28, 2003

A certain amount of brick-throwing might even be a good thing. There comes a moment in the career of most artists, if they are any good, when attacks on their work take a form almost more acceptable than praise.
Anthony Powell, Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant

Golden Age
The Internet is still a free country, and I’d like to think this level of interest and activity will last forever, but this may be remembered as the Golden Age.
The dynamic and democratic nature of the Internet (at least at present) ensures that arts debates will no longer be confined to the pages of newspapers and periodicals but will be open to anyone with smarts and a knack for expressing him or herself. Every day I happen across new sites written by people who are at least as passionate about books as I am and can express their passions in an intelligent, charismatic way. Three or four years ago it would not have been possible for me to read their opinions, or for them to read mine. While online debates can be splintered and diffuse and sometimes clubby, I'm heartened by the sheer number of them. Who knew so many people cared about books?

· 2003: a real literary culture online developed [ via Saloon: Fortunately there is room for disagreement]
· 10 Technologies to watch in 2004
Sydneysiders stand in front of the estate agents, staring at the photographs, their jaws dropping... Looking back at a year of economic & political carping.

03's company: what a crowd
The scent first went to the Dobermans. A sniff, a whiff in the sultry days as 2003 began, and they quickly divined that the year would be a stinker. Some seasons were like that. And it would probably also stay hot, they figured.
Now at the end of the year, they had been proven right. In the office at Tried and True Trustees, Sisyphus worked the abacus and shook his head and the dogs became very still, though their nostrils flared and their exhalations whistled faintly in nervous staccato.

· AMP. What a dog [blatantly pinched from Finally, there was zzzzzzzzmh. ]
· You've been a good mate tradition is alive and well in NSW [ via SMH Terrigals and Trogs dine out on Carr's fate ]
· Bones to pick [ courtesy of Praguepost]

Friday, December 26, 2003

Have Yourself a Merry Little Boxing Day
How dare we question our leaders who have blisters and blood from making us and our families safer, richer and happier? Biting the very hand that feeds Us? We are an unpatriotic, flag-hating conspiracy freak if we doubt the regime our honest politicians are sooooo proud of creating! It's stuff in journals like the Wahington Post that makes me sit up. Usually, when political journalists in the trenches say something this momentous, it means something. It speaks of a lack of faith in leadership; a disafection in the fourth estate. Readers sit up, listen and ponder.

Under Bush, Expanding Secrecy
Last Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would consider an effort by Vice President Cheney to keep private the records of the energy policy task force he ran. On Friday, the White House announced that it has known for two weeks about an attack on a convoy carrying Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer -- but had decided not to divulge the information. Later that day, President Bush announced a disarmament deal with Libya reached during nine months of secret negotiations.
· It is a banner for government secrecy: I Rule, Therefore I'm Golden [ courtesy of Washington Post ]
· Chomsky has written about the selective memory and the morality of convenience [ via Independent ]
· Lord Black: Friendship and Business Blur in the World of a Media Baron [ via Thoughtlines: On the dust jacket: blurbs by an impressive set of conservative thinkers...]
God is not a right-wing boxing zealot
God has given us two eyes, two ears and two arms and two hands, but only one heart. And it's in the center and a little bit to the left.
In the heart of the Bluegrass, a Bible Belt preacher is rallying people to political action around what he calls "basic religious values." Think you can describe his politics? Think again. This man of the cloth wants "regime change" in Washington.

· Washminsters [ via Salon]

It's greed, not ideology, that rules the White House
Why the US wants Iraq's debts cancelled - and Argentina's paid in full
· NO Ideas [ via Guardian(UK)]
Vintage year for the wages of sin and the wagers of lawyers
The 2003 legal year commenced badly and didn't get much better. The tax lives of barristers continued to feature unhappily throughout the entire season. Clarrie Stevens, "QC", who missed putting in 16 years of tax returns, finally agreed he was not a fit and proper person to stay on the roll of practitioners.
· Does that complete the cross-examination? [ courtesy of SMH]

Thursday, December 25, 2003

As Krusty, the Klown, would say: ‘Have a Kooky Christmas, a Happy Hanukkha, a Crazy Kwanza, and a...very respectful Ramadan.

The 411 on Faith
Now that we're in the season of Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, check out for the 411 on every religion.
Season's greetings to Media Dragon readers -- and a big thank you. We rely on you for tips and feedback and look forward to hearing from you in the new year.
SUBMIT YOUR TIPS FOR THE VIRTUAL 6 DEGREE OF SEPERATION: What websites and stories do you find most ironical, trendy, savvy? Which dragon tails about political and managerial bullies have been missed by the journalistic profession? Send a link and I'll publish a selection.

· Greetings [ via Ideas ]

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Truth and consequences
Michael Kinsley, who has his moments (but oh, those quarter-hours!), recently put his finger on something that’s always irritated me. We all know that politicians never tell the truth, but I don’t mind flat-out lies—that goes with the territory. What drives me wild is their inability to say anything without spinning it. The day any politician of either party makes so blunt a remark within earshot of microphones—and declines to retract, moderate, or invert it before the day is out—you’ll know the barometer of cultural health in America is moving in the right direction. But don't hang by your thumbs waiting for it.
· About Politics [ courtesy of About Last Night]

Monday, December 22, 2003

The Loophole Artist
Few Americans have heard of Jonathan Blattmachr, a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. But among the 16,000 or so lawyers in America who specialize in trusts and estates, which is to say in the passing of wealth from one generation to the next, he enjoys the status of a Hollywood star. In these circles, his first name alone prompts recognition.
Men (and a few women) of great wealth confide in Blattmachr. The Rockefellers are among those who seek his counsel. Because his specialty is maintaining wealth across time, he needs to know more than just the size and shape of his clients' fortunes. His work requires knowing whether a marriage is an enduring bond of love or a commercial relationship, or whether heirs can be trusted with fortunes or only allowed a stream of income. He knows of prodigal sons and promising granddaughters, of executives at family-owned businesses who will not learn for years that the brass ring was never going to be theirs. Sometimes men of great wealth whisper secrets they would never share with their wives. He knows how much a mistress costs or whether, if health fails, a spouse can be trusted with the power to pull the plug. His clients reveal these things to Blattmachr because he can help them maintain their wealth now and for their children. He can chart clandestine routes through the maze of the tax code, making a man who appears as a Midas to his bankers look like a pauper to the tax man.

· Helping the superrich keep their richer [ courtesy of How to Save the world]

· Taxing Letter 2003 AD style
Is This Legal?
I Spy impulse, families and employers are adopting surveillance technology once used mostly to track soldiers and prisoners. New electronic services with names like uLocate and Wherify Wireless make a very personal piece of information for cellphone users. physical location, harder to mask.
· Are CEOs & SES becoming SS of 2004? [ courtesy of Auction Wagon: ebay trends...]

Dumpster can be a gold mine
It was the first time I had ever been to the dump,'' Massey recalled, wrinkling his nose. ''I said, 'I'm not going to get dirty,' so I wandered over to a shed where the recycling was stored. I notice there's a big barrel for recycled paper that's full of discarded tax forms from an accounting firm.'' Each form had the person's name, date of birth, Social Security number -- all the information necessary for taking out a line of credit.
· Aspiring identity thief [ via Google]

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Tyrrany of Land Speculations
The Prime Minister has urged the Carr Government to release more land for homes as he moves to shift the political onus on to the states to solve the housing crisis.
John Howard told The Sun-Herald it was "predictable" that the states reacted coolly to a recommendation by the Productivity Commission that stamp duty be scrapped and replaced with other taxes such as land and payroll.
They don't want to give up money, despite the fact that they will be wallowing in money from the GST.

· GST [ via SMH ]
Servants? There were anomalies. To anyone outside Germany, Hitler looked ludicrous. How could you take him seriously, given that he was born within minutes of Charlie Chaplin and looked uncomfortably like his tramp – a point not lost on Chaplin, whose masterpiece, The Great Dictator, exploited this historic happenstance. As for Mussolini, he shared Hitler’s problem, looking like a bad joke to anyone outside Italy. Yet Adolf and Benito became the embodiment of national desires.
· Misleaders [ via Phil Adams]
· Pension off politicians' superannuated hypocrisy [ courtesy of Australian ]

Saturday, December 20, 2003

The end of the American & Australian dreams
Where is this taking us? Thomas Piketty, whose work with Saez has transformed our understanding of income distribution, warns that current policies will eventually create "a class of rentiers in the U.S., whereby a small group of wealthy but untalented children controls vast segments of the US economy and penniless, talented children simply can't compete." If he's right--and I fear that he is--we will end up suffering not only from injustice, but from a vast waste of human potential.
· Goodbye, Horatio Alger. And goodbye, American Dream.
[ via Roadtosurfdom]
· Aussie $700bn credit binge [ courtesy of Gittins]
· Negative Gear [ via Road to Nowhere]

Lives? No One Cares; Revenue? Show Me The Money!
The introduction of speed cameras, dual carriageways and random breath testing has done little to cut the number of deaths on NSW roads.
· StaySafe? [ courtesy of SMH ]
The Kindest Cut

Virginia's strip clubs don't have to pay taxes on the drinks that patrons buy for dancers or on the private dances that they provide
· Dancing [HeraldMail ]

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Community development finance institutions: evidence from overseas and Australia
Australia has failed to follow most other developed countries and develop a set of specialised financial institutions that are needed for the successful regeneration of disadvantaged communities. Community Development Financial Institutions constitute one such new institution. This paper describes the emergence of CDFIs, the various forms they have taken and the kinds of government support they have received in various countries. It suggests initiatives that can carry forward the task of institutional development in Australia.
· regeneration of disadvantaged [Australian Centre for Co-operative Research and Development, University of Technology Sydney (PDF file) courtesy of APO ]
· Simply the best: workplaces in Australia (PDF file) [ via APO ]

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Writers Pay Ahead of Time
There's a habit they have, not of paying back, but of paying forward; I know of no other branch of literature where the established "names" so keenly encourage wannabe writers to become their competitors. I came back from that event determined to be a writer. After all, I'd shaken hands with Arthur C Clarke, so now it was just a matter of hard work...
· More than half the skill of writing lies in tricking the book out of your own head [ via Bookslut ]

Our sea still girt by the rich
If you need proof that the rich are getting richer, just look at the residents of Darling Point-Point Piper. Not only are they the wealthiest in Australia - again - but their incomes have jumped another $20,000 in a year.
· Be Wise & Rich: Gear Negatively Get Others to Pay Backward; Be Fool & Pay Rent [ courtesy of SMH ]

Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Saudi Connection
David E. Kaplan of U.S. News & World Report spent five months tracing the relationship between Saudi Arabian money and terrorism, finding that over the past 25 years, the desert kingdom has been the single greatest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism, while its huge, unregulated charities funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to jihad groups and al Qaeda cells around the world. Saudi charities played an important role in a $70 billion campaign to spread the message of the ruling Wahhabi sect. Saudi largess encouraged U.S. officials to look the other way, some veteran intelligence officers say. Billions of dollars in contracts, grants, and salaries have gone to a broad range of former U.S. officials who had dealt with the Saudis:
· ambassadors, CIA station chiefs, even cabinet secretaries [ via Scoop ]
Howard flags family tax cuts
John Howard has virtually guaranteed tax cuts at the next election and nominated young parents who both work as those most in need of relief.
· Better LaterThan Never ...Hej! [ courtesy of Jungle Law]
· The property bubble had been pricked ...Rubbish! [ courtesy of Schemes ]

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Cold River: Hot Mega-Sale!
Cold River has come a long way since 1980, and this week it celebrates its spring with 35% off (club members 44.89% off) its Multiformat eBook. Hurry, this sale only lasts through Sunday, December 14.

Is this the Cheapest 400 page tome in the brave new world of publishing?
One dragon eats quiet slice of humble pie and claims dubious literary history. Lock up your reading loving wives!
· Cold Reality backfires on Dragons: All you need is discount! [ courtesy of Taxing Jackpots]

Friday, December 12, 2003

You never would have guessed that I would give my life for saint/sinner Soros! Indeed, Soros will always be my hero; even beyond my grave. (smile) Please note this one teeny, tiny step closer to a less corrupt world. Since the Open Society Institute’s U.S. Programs began in 1996, one of the foundation’s central efforts has been to improve the functioning of U.S. democracy and, in particular, to promote an understanding of the influence of money on U.S. politics and to explore solutions that reduce this influence. OSI’s long-term goals have been to reduce the corrupting influence of very large donors to political parties and candidates, to increase public trust and participation, and to open the system so that candidates without access to financial resources can be heard by voters.

Finance Law
The consensus seems to be that political corruption is so rampant and detrimental to the American political body that any measure to slay this monster is welcome. The NY Times ran an editorial titled “ A campaign finance triumph ” and blithely noted:
The Supreme Court delivered a stunning victory for political reform yesterday, upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law virtually in its entirety. The court rejected claims that the law violates the First Amendment, making it clear that Congress has broad authority in acting against the corrupting power of money in politics. The ruling is cause for celebration, but it should also spur Congress to do more to clean up our political system.
· Campaign [ via NYTimes ]
· Cleaning UP [ courtesy of Soros ]
Corporate citizenship and the role of government
Good corporate citizenship integrates social, ethical, environmental, economic and philanthropic values in the core decision-making processes of a business.
· Public policy case [Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library]

Patricia Andreu and Scott Zamost of NBC6 in South Florida have an undercover investigation of personal injury protection insurance fraud, in which criminals stage accidents and then refer "injured" victims for medical treatment to be billed to insurers.
· Stage [NBC6Scoop ]

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Redefining NGOs: the emerging debate
In July 2003, the federal government released an exposure draft of legislation (Charities Bill 2003) which seeks to redefine what constitutes a charitable organisation. It also asked the Board of Taxation to conduct a public enquiry to determine the criteria for organisations to be given charitable status. The report of the enquiry is now expected to be submitted to the Treasurer by 19 December 2003.
· Definitions [Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library(PDF file)]
Practical magic - Your initiatives
Send Sydney Morning Herald a brief outline of your organisation's innovative health-care initiatives and we'll publish a selection of them on this website
· A Herald series [ courtesy of]

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Miserable Failures & Successes

It is possible to commit no mistakes -- and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life...
There can be no triumph without loss
No victory without suffering
No freedom without sacrifice
Cold Advise

Meanwhile my short story @ ABCTales received over centenary readers...
Furthermore my long monograph has a dubious honour of being presented on the same page as:
Un Unfinished Life, John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963; Benjamin Franklin; I Am a Soldier, Too; Bill Clinton: An American Journey; (sic) The Jessica Lynch Story; and being stuck between Living History, Hillary Rodham Clinton and miserable failures of Bin Laden & Georges Clemenceau statures...
· Reading Palms Digitally [ courtesy of Google ]

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Amber finds hope on a farm
Formerly angry, abused, homeless and addicted, Amber is now one of the thousands of success stories springing from a community-based revolution that is putting health care back into the hands of patients.
· PRACTICAL MAGIC: A Herald Series [SMH ]
Sometimes I feel as if I am pounding out the same message over and over to the point of harping: Newspapers have a destructive, risk-adverse culture that stifles change and initiative. Fix the culture and the rest will follow.
· It's the Culture, Stupid: The Mood of a Newsroom [ via Tim Porter]

Rum Corps to white-shoe brigade
The way that land is at the heart of Australian dream: the source of wealth and security, spirituality and belonging is explored in the second Griffith Review: Dreams of Land. As interest rates rise it might be time to rethink the national hobby of property speculation, but Jim Forbes and Peter Spearritt remain sceptical as they trace the history of speculation.
· We are unlikely to break our addiction to bricks and mortar [The Griffith Review via APO ]
· Low Rentals []

Monday, December 08, 2003

21st century tax monster
AUSTRALIA'S tax system is so complex that if the legislation continues growing at its current pace, it will amount to 830 billion pages by the end of the century.
Businesses, accountants and lawyers are wasting time and expertise on tax compliance that could otherwise be directed to building competitive Australian businesses.

· Context for Scoping Review [ courtesy of Inspector-General of Taxation ]

Office of the Inspector-General of Taxation
Level 27, 363 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
GPO Box 551
Sydney, NSW 2001
Mr David Voss, (02) 8295 2200
Ph: (02) 8295 2200
Fax: (02) 8295 2211

· Australia's inaugural Inspector-General of Tax
Alex Wayne of the Greensboro News & Record analyzed Guilford County payroll records to find that some of the largest bonuses in 2002 and 2003 "went to the government's best-paid and highest-ranking employees." The report is based on data released by the county after the paper sued for the information in October. "The records the county released provide a 17-month snapshot of the bonus and merit-raise system, dating to July 2002. The snapshot is incomplete, however, because the county only released records about merit raises, and not about two other common types of salary increases that county employees can attain."
· best-paid and highest-ranking employees [Record via Scoop ]
· Who Tried To Bribe Rep. Smith? [ courtesy of Novak ]

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Yes, the boss is insane: Analysis of the Ego

Like Freud, Bion maintained that individual and group psychology were just different ways of looking at the same thing. Like an organism, the group has its own mentality or mind. Understanding groups sheds light on the forces that drive individuals.
For Bion, the collective simply bristles with tensions between the needs of the individual and the group's mentality and culture. And, like the Cheshire Cat, group mentality or culture emerges only occasionally in a clear way.
In Australia, the list of recent corporate disasters includes HIH, Ansett and One.Tel. In each organisation, cracks in the system appeared well in advance. But regulators, managers and directors pushed on regardless and, in some cases, even papered over the cracks, denying the truth and suppressing dissent.
Few leaders have the ego strength to welcome thoughtful dissent and reward it. Instead, they call in the consultants, management is overhauled and new formulas for success are grafted on to the machinery. The pathology not only remains unchecked, it is denied. The equivalent of the organisation's ego - there to mediate between the group and the real world - and its conscience in the superego break down.

· In the long run, failing to address these issues can be far more painful than ignoring them [The New Age]

Henry Kaye

Henry Kaye promised to repay his debts this week, and none are greater than those he owes the Howard-Costello Government.
The only thing more remarkable than Kaye's hot-air propelled rise was the lengths the Government went to to clear his way.
Peter Costello opened the door for Kaye four years ago by halving the capital gains tax rate for individuals, thereby raising the incentive to invest by 50 per cent. He maintained Australia's munificent negative gearing and depreciation laws for good measure.
John Howard iced the cake by donating between $7000 and $14,000 to anyone who claimed they were a first home buyer.
But not even Kaye was prepared for the gift Costello handed him in 2001, when the Government pushed through its long-awaited Financial Services Reform Act.

· Property Busts: Hard Landing (Ansett) tax on horizon [SMH]
· St Kaye [Australian]

Friday, December 05, 2003

Citizen’s Journalism
Good journalism doesn’t need to be complicated, sophisticated or expensive.
The Brownsville Herald, a 15,800-circulation daily in deep Texas, sent out a few reporters to ask local police and city commissions for various public records such as police logs or expense reports. The result: Runaround, hostility and ignorance by public officials and, in one case, a police car that tailed report Juan Ozuna for more than 20 minutes after he left city hall in Santa Rosa, Texas...
Where do you live? What do you want with this information? What’s your address?
I love this type of journalism. It resonates with truth. It conveys with direct honesty the frustrations of everyday experiences citizens undergo when dealing with government and bureaucracies – and by doing so connects with the public.

· Truth Frustrated [Tim Porter]
I am a straight blogger. I believe I treat everyone fairly and I take Havel up on his slogan to be tough but fair to all sides.

If Latham wants to play with negative gearing, he can target it to affordable housing. It is clearly going to be politically unpalatable - and economically dangerous - to remove it, but why not only provide the benefit to where it is actually needed?
Negative gearing could be targeted towards properties rented at a certain level. If he wanted to be really clever, Latham could devise a policy that linked negative gearing with housing for the people who receive some level of Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
If Latham is the policy genius he tells us he is, he should be able to
* stop ordinary Joes funding real estate speculators
* free up some money to put towards decent tax breaks that can benefit marginal taxpayers while ensuring a supply of affordable housing for those who need it
* keep inflation in check, as rents for this sector would remain relatively static, and if a significant cost such as housing is under control, you are a long way to keeping inflation low
* push more environmentally responsible building by decreasing demand for resource-intensive trophy housing and boosting the market for modest accommodation (particularly when it is designed to reduce the utility bills of the intended occupants.
* slow the housing market to more sustainable levels, without a dramatic bust.

· Boom/Bust I [ ]
· Boom/Bust II [ ]

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Low doc a tax time bomb

Low doc loans and Henry Kaye could well go down as the twin emblems of the 2002-03 Australian property boom, but low doc loans, at least, are misunderstood.
· Missing trends [SMH]
There are some things too dreadful to be revealed, and it is even more dreadful how, in spite of our better instincts, we long to know about them.

Oh, all right, one more taxing thing
Just over a week ago, Mike Richards, chief of staff of deposed Labor leader Simon Crean, broke a habit of a lifetime to phone a senior executive at publisher John Fairfax.
The previous day, November 23, Fairfax's Sydney Sun-Herald newspaper had featured on its front page a story speculating on the demise of Crean.
Written by veteran reporter Alex Mitchell, the article stated bluntly: "Key union defections have threatened to end Simon Crean's embattled federal leadership of the Australian Labor Party."
It was sensational stuff, but there was no attribution and it did not mention the name of any union or individual. Richards, a former principal adviser to ex-Victorian Premier John Cain, was livid, telling Fairfax executive Mark Scott it was "irresponsible journalism".


Monday, November 24, 2003

Choice and the bench

Justice Michael Kirby is wrong on one crucial point. He is right to avoid the odious literalism of Sir Garfield Barwick. He is, however, wrong to specify that the interpretive posture should involve the people's wishes, the common good, or, especially, some godlike, elitist view of the infinite wisdom of the judiciary.
The only proper interpretive line involves trying to decipher the rubbish that at times emanates from parliament. Has the judiciary ever referred a point of law back to the drafters of that law? Has it ever seen bad law and asked for a clarification before it becomes a problem?
Peter Lander, Neutral Bay, November 23 (SMH)

I fought the law ...
Ironically, my role covering these stories presented my greatest challenge as a journalist. Some of those, especially those associated with the ALP, broke off contact with me, apparently believing that I had betrayed them and their causes. I found this more personally upsetting than not being admitted to practise law. It also confirmed my view that most lawyers, journalists and other professionals tend to hide abuse in their own ranks.
· Greatest Lovers in the World [SMH]

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Using rewards to catch white collar criminals

In this report Bruce Chapman (Centre for Economic Policy Research, ANU) and Richard Denniss (The Australia Institute) outline a new approach both to detecting and punishing the crimes of insider trading and collusion. They propose that financial incentives be offered to individuals or firms participating in illegal activity in return for the provision of evidence against other participants. In order to ensure that attractive incentives can be offered, and large fines levied, it is also proposed that a revenue contingent payment mechanism be utilised to extract both incentive payments and fines from firms and individuals convicted of these offences. The use of a revenue contingent penalty payment increases the certainty of collecting penalties while reducing the incentive for recourse to bankruptcy.
· Incentive payments and fines [(The Australia InstitutePDF file)]

Saturday, November 22, 2003

More than just a roof

The reality of family homelessness is one of the major social tragedies confronting our society. As this research report argues, thousands of Queenslanders experience this unacceptable reality each year. Social policies which address educational, health and welfare needs all become secondary when finding somewhere secure to live is the critical and urgent need. The report's findings suggest that measures beyond the mere provision of housing are required to address the needs of family groups facing a housing crisis.
· Study of family homelessness in Queensland [(PDF file) ]
· Generation Xcluded: no kids, no house, no money! [(PDF file) ]
· The Hawke Policy Website

Time to Recognize the Politics of Suburban Sprawl

On the pages of nearly every newspaper in the nation, there are daily articles on suburban sprawl. Attempts to get sprawl under control started in the 1950s relatively soon after sprawl exploded after the end of World War II. They all failed. Even now, with a strong national “smart growth” movement, unless sprawl-haters understand sprawl politics and the power of the sprawl lobby, by mid-century with a population lunging toward 400 million, it will be too late to save so much of what so many Americans value, including public greenspaces, rural lifestyles, farmland and social capital.
· Caught in the poverty of wealth [ CommonDreams]

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Assessing Australia's Innovative Capacity in the 21st Century
Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia (IPRIA)

Innovation is essential to a nation's prosperity. This report assesses the evolution of the Australian innovation environment over the past two decades. It then proposes a 3-part strategy for furthering Australian future innovation: (i) strengthening common innovation infrastructure, (ii) encouraging regional industrial clusters and (iii) upgrading linkages between both. The PDF format paper is available on the internet · .

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Kindest Cut

Virginia's strip clubs don't have to pay taxes on the drinks that patrons buy for dancers or on the private dances that they provide
· Taxing of Virgins [HeraldMail ]
Progress and Poverty
A hundred years ago a young unknown printer in San Francisco wrote a book he called Progress and Poverty. He wrote after his daily working hours, in the only leisure open to him for writing. He had no real training in political economy. Indeed he had stopped schooling in the seventh grade in his native Philadelphia, and shipped before the mast as a cabin boy, making a complete voyage around the world.
· Cabin Boy [ Progress]
Exclusive Steve Wallman, founder and CEO of FOLIOfn (www.foliofn. com)
Once upon a time in the late nineties, people trusted their brokers to keep them swimming in the black. After all, the stock market moved in one direction (up), and analysts' optimistic predictions kept finding validation in ever higher stock prices. But since the stock market began to decline in the Spring of 2000, people aren't quite as trusting of the so-called soothsayers and brokers whose calls now appear more the result of momentum than any broad insight of the markets.
· Late 90s [Bizreport ]

Monday, November 17, 2003

Disappearing State Corporate Income Tax
T he Disappearing State Corporate Income Tax In state legislatures across the nation, lawmakers are scrambling to cope with revenue shortfalls. Increasingly, however, they can't look to the corporate income tax for much help.
· Taxes [Tax ]
· Taxes [ Tax]

Sunday, November 16, 2003


Stereotyping all homeless people as menacing lawbreakers is simply wrong. Homeless people are as varied as anyone. Some are families down on their luck, some are people with mental problems, substance abuse problems, or both -- they run the gamut
· Poverty [SouthbendTribune ]
· He is so famous, he can get a personal audience with U.S. President George W. Bush or Pope John Paul II to talk about important issues like poverty and starvation, the injustice of Third World debt [Telegraph ]

Let's talk taxes

I recently noticed that for federal taxes with no deductions, the income of a single person can be $7,705 to owe $1 tax. I wonder who needs that $1 more, the federal government or the person. Last year the Republicans seemed to brag that taxpayers in the top 5 percent income bracket paid 55 percent of all the taxes. Maybe they were gloating because the top 5 percent of the wealthiest have 95 percent of the wealth, and should be paying 95 percent of the taxes. No wonder all those people who earned $7,705 need to pay $1.
· 5 percent of the wealthiest have 95 percent of the wealth [Purcell ]

Sunday Sermon: Cold River & Bible

It is not everyday I discover I am being quoted in a sermon (smile)

A Funeral for the Church
I'm 35 with a young family a long way from home. I love this Church, and yet hate so much of what it has stood for in the past. I believe it can and will change, and I want to be there to see it happen. I'm crazy enough to believe in resurrection, and for that reason have no regrets about saying to the church of my youth 'Rest in Peace'. I will remain at the edge, as only at the edge can I be faithful to the inspiration of my faith, Jesus who took risks, was always open to change and valued people over institutions.
Earth to earth. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. And then out of the ashes something new and exciting will emerge.

· The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do [St Matthews]
Cold Reality

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Bank urges tax audits on housing
THE Reserve Bank wants the Australian Taxation Office to crack down on investors who deliberately buy loss-making properties to negative gear.
Although interest rates have halved in the past decade, the Reserve Bank puts most of the blame for the big jump in house prices on tax breaks for property investors.

· Negative Gearing [ CourierMail]
The banks here are ripping us off. Not just one of them, but all of them. They seem to have forgotten that when we open bank accounts we are lending them our precious cash. They are not doing us a favour in letting us have accounts; we are doing them a favour in giving them our money to play with.
Because they do play with it. Banks invest our money and make a profit on the interest they get. Their income is the difference between the interest they charge us and the interest they pay.

· Aussie Bank [SMH ]
This weekend, the Guinness Book of World Records will sell its 100 millionth copy.

Digital library
So: e-books are handy when I'm concerned only with text, when I want to take a lot of text in a very compact way, and when I want to mark up heavily. The upshot for me of having a growing library of e-books is that I can take better care of my printed volumes and focus a bit more on buying print with an eye toward quality, since I've got this option for uses where aesthetics matter less.
· eBooks [AboutLastNight]
· Understanding Trees and Woods...

Books are fun and interesting to read, but the Sunday Book Review is neither... the review hardly ever helps you answer the key question: Should I spend $4.85 on 'Tis eBook?
· New York Times Sunday Book Review [Boston Globe 11/13/03]
Hornby Offers Peek at Novel-in-Progress
Reading from a novel tentatively titled Kings and Queens of Shambles, Hornby told the story of three people who meet when they’re all trying to kill themselves by jumping from the same roof.
“Out of the way, losers!” yells Jess, as she charges the other two characters already occupying the prime suicide spot.

· A funny tone about sad things [ Crimson]

Friday, November 14, 2003

· RR: Rene [SMH ]
· FL: Frank [SMH ]
Generous tax breaks
Investors were driven by a belief that house prices could never fall for long, while easy and cheap finance meant homeowners could buy an investment property without having to spend a cent up-front.
A key lure was tax breaks, allowing investors to cut the out-of-pocket loss on a $400,000 property from $331 a week to $81 a week.
Negative gearing let investors write losses off against other income, while they could also claim for depreciation of the property.

· Negative gearing [SMH]

Against us

When I hear Bush say, 'You're either with us or against us,' it reminds me of the Germans.
It conjured up memories of the Nazi slogan, "Der Feind hoert mit" (The enemy is listening): My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitised me.

Soros: Beating Bush is my life's mission
GEORGE Soros, one of the richest men in the world, has given away nearly £3 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating the president of the United States, George Bush.
· A matter of life and death [Scotsman]

Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Decay of Public Language
The corporate world is awful at using language effectively, and we're all the poorer for it
· World Today [ABC ]

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

· Election Cuts [SMH]
The Money Trap:
Soros and his Institute has a brilliant new website peppered with engaging ideas and stories.
Corruption has no easy definition—behavior tolerated as normal, or at least necessary, in one place may be seen as deviant and punishable by fines and jail time in another. Yet all forms of corruption, even the seemingly trivial, erode the bonds of society. Corruption must be recognized for what it is: a looming global crisis.
One paper focuses on the undisclosed deals between multinational corporations and governments that help officials enrich themselves at the public’s expense. And it shows how even strong laws against corruption in established democracies can be riddled with loopholes to benefit wealthy groups that dominate the legislative process.

· Stopping the Spread of Corruption [OSI PDFformat]

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Lady Luck?
- A Bumper Sticker -
Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
Did you hear about the New 3 Million Dollar Alabama State Lottery?

· The winner gets 3 dollars a year for a million years [NSW Lotteries]
· Healthy Skepticism [Phil Adams]

Monday, November 10, 2003

Swapping Political Favours
Follow the monkey money...
· Pollies, Porkies, Pokies [SMH ]

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I never had sex with that woman...Clinton; But

Living through Secret Affair with Hillary Bray Clinton
Martin Sikora reviewed my book back in August 2002 and publishers of Hillary Clinton pinched his idea and now some readers who use search engine download Cold River and Living History (smile)
Customer Rating: (4 stars)
Posted on 8/23/2002
Unless one went through it, experienced it, and lived it, one can’t ever really know. But a man known as Jozef Imrich lived through it and he tells his story of growing up in communist Czechoslovakia. But ‘Cold River’ is so much more than just a story, a riveting story of trial and escape, and of rebirth. It is, in its essence, a moving and dramatic tale of one man’s quest for freedom; not just in a physical sense, but an emotional one as well. This e-book literally sent chills up my spine. After you finish reading, you can't get certain images out of your head. Even as you are going along, reading it, there are parts where you can't believe you’re breathing. It might seem hard to believe, but there are no photos or maps in this book.

· Jozef [Bookbooters ]
· Hillary [Bookbooters]
Federal-state law flaw keeps insider trader out of jail
Convicted insider trader Rene Rivkin has used lax federal laws to turn his periodic detention into a farce.
He could keep getting medical certificates to have his detention postponed indefinitely.

· Outside [SMH ]

The exact science of hindsight
Some say economists are people who don't know what they are talking about - and make you feel it's your fault. But maybe the joke is on those who take them seriously.
· Deflating Joke [SMH]
· Land Tax
Blog Sleuth Hipper
Eurovavant points out this fantastic bit of blogging detective work on the HipperCritical blog. Some lawyer was allowed onto the New York Time's Op-Ed pages yesterday with an editorial arguing that Iraq should be required to pay its international debt in full. Turns out (but the NYT didn't bother to provide any clue about this) that he's a lawyer whose clients are those companies and kingdoms to whom Iraq owes that money. Our sleuth "Hipper" took to the Google trail and found that out, plus a whole lot of other juicy information - such as that the lawyer is on record in the past as urging the forgiving of Russia's foreign debt. (But Russia was the one paying his fees then, you see. That was then; this is now.)
· Hippercritical

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Tricks Assets transfer
In the eyes of creditors, there was perhaps now little difference between the two directors: wealthy wives, pre-collapse lifestyles, assets out of reach.
· Wives [SMH]

Friday, November 07, 2003

OECD figures
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (has recently released the 2003 edition of OECD in Figures: Statistics on the Member Countries.
· Comparison [PDF]
As the rate rise hits wallets, the Government is sure to deflect attention elsewhere...
All Rise
Home borrowers may be grappling with a second interest rate increase within weeks, experts warned yesterday after the Reserve Bank's unexpected decision to lift rates for the first time in nearly 18 months.
· 14 Kurdish men [SMH]

Thursday, November 06, 2003

All Rise
Home borrowers may be grappling with a second interest rate increase within weeks, experts warned yesterday after the Reserve Bank's unexpected decision to lift rates for the first time in nearly 18 months.
· Investors winners [SMH]
How well do individuals predict their future life satisfaction?
Over recent years a number of papers have used individual or household longitudinal survey data to investigate the rationality of income expectations. In this paper the authors provide a novel contribution to this literature by examining the ability of individuals to correctly predict their own future life satisfaction using longitudinal data for East Germans.
· APO [Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (PDF file)]
· A race to the bottom? [National Europe Centre, Australian National University]

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

How well do individuals predict their future life satisfaction?
Over recent years a number of papers have used individual or household longitudinal survey data to investigate the rationality of income expectations. In this paper the authors provide a novel contribution to this literature by examining the ability of individuals to correctly predict their own future life satisfaction using longitudinal data for East Germans.
· APO [Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University (PDF file)]

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Dark Long queue at drive-in soup kitchen
George Bush's America, the wealthiest nation in history, faces a growing poverty crisis.
· Amerikan Winter [Guardian](UK)
Google set to rewrite the rules of advertising
When adults sit down to use the web they generally do two things: check their emails and then do a search (teenagers either chat or download music, but that's a whole different kettle of piracy)
· Kettle of piracy [SMH]

Monday, November 03, 2003

Sometimes a big 100-watt goes off over my tired, saltier than peppered head and I see things in a whole new light...

The Truth About Pop Culture
Almost everyone, it seems, blames the mass media for the increasingly violent nature of American society. And for the corruption of our children. And for our rampant materialism and consumerism. And for the increasing sexualization of our culture,” writes David Shaw, media critic for the Los Angeles Times.
Karen Sternheimer is one of the few exceptions. The 34-year-old sociologist at USC has written a book, It's Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture's Influence on Children, and in it she argues that the even though the media are a "central force" in our society, "media culture is not the root cause of American social problems."
Though Shaw isn’t ready to let the media off the hook so easily and thinks Sternheimer overstates her case, he praises her central argument: “‘The most pressing crisis facing American children today is not media culture but poverty,’ she rightly says.
“In her view, the other ‘big bad wolves of childhood’ are family violence, child abuse and neglect, inadequate health care and the under-funding of education. But it's easier for politicians to blame the media than to budget the money -- and spend the political capital -- necessary to address these problems.”

· Her finger isn't pointed in the usual direction [LA Times]
· Daily Choice Turned Deadly: Children Left on Their Own [NY Times]
The secret to success is knowing who to blame for your failures.

Amazon Says Search Inside Boosts Sales
Despite all the ink given to those authors who have qualms about the program, not many have asked to have their books removed.
Travel writer Rick Steves gives a nice quote to one of the Seattle papers: If someone's cheap and desperate enough to download my entire book, then carry it all over Europe, anyone who sees this mass of papers is going to ask, 'Whose book is so great that someone would go to that length for it?' And they'll see my name, and buy a copy.
Ok, deep breath...
The Czech for the greatest writer of all times has arrived...
· Dragon: A Little Perspective on my royalty Cheque from Cold River [Crunch Time]

Sunday, November 02, 2003

According to today's Technorati [ ] we have ten in top hundred most influential links out of the net. Thanks to all our readers for putting us there. We are proud to be in the same vicinity as CNN, BBC and NY Times.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Yukos Oil
Évery so often the arrest of one man involves more than the charges he may face and his fate before the court. In these rare instances, the legal proceedings are a distraction from the larger moral and strategic implications, and so they are intended to be. The arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky by Russian secret services in Siberia over the weekend is one such arrest.
· The Failure of Putin's Russia [WashingtonPost ]
Antipodean Machiavellis: Israel v Switzerland
For some, the secret world of Swiss banking hasn't been all it's cracked up to be. It reopened old wounds.
It wasn't hard to imagine that half the population of Sydney's eastern suburbs were frantically ringing their offshore accountants and lawyers this week.
It appears that even one's financial activities in the world's great tax havens cannot be assured of absolute secrecy.

· Rene's Swiss connection: Key Links [SMH]
· Swiss and Taxes
The participants in the Offset Alpine affair are some of our best-known political, media and finance personalities. They are the men who stand up for one another in court, on talkback radio and in political circles. Taking leaves out of Trevor Kennedy's book? Like every business wants to controll the flow of currency, every government wants to control the news, and you don't have to shoot reporters or imprison them to do so.

Swiss Code of Secrecy Carr: A Master News Manipulator
We come to NSW where the state is in the hands of a master news manipulator, the Premier and former journalist, Bob Carr. Carr has worked assiduously to snuff out sources of bad news. To this end, he is bundling every independent watchdog agency which caused the slightest hint of trouble to his Government into the NSW Ombudsman's office. The Privacy Commissioner, the Inspector-General of Prisons and the Child Death Review team are being swallowed up by the monster agency.
· Watchdog lost its teeth, bark by new secrecy provisions, legalisms, and the exercise of discretion [SMH ]

Friday, October 31, 2003

Examining recent changes in income distribution in Australia
"Tis paper analyses recently released ABS data on the distribution of income which allows, for the first time, estimates to be made of the distribution of income in 2000-01 and how it has changed since the mid-1990s. It is now possible to examine how inequality has changed since 1994-95 and since the election of the Howard Government in 1995-96. The estimates indicate that while real disposable incomes increased across the distribution, income inequality has also increased since 1994-95, particularly between 1996-97 and 1999-2000.
· ABS Data [Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales(PDF file)]
· Books without sales and taxes ... [TownOnline ]
Literary Land
The British Library is asking bibliophiles to adopt a book and save it for the nation.
· Adoption [Telegraph (UK)]

Masters v Peasants: Information is Power
Each year the Congressional Research Search (CRS) publishes approximately 1,000 reports of which the public may have access to several hundred. In an interesting change of policy, Secrecy News reports that access to selected reports previously provided via the websites of two members of Congress, Rep. Mark Green (R-WI) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), has been terminated.
· Public Access to CRS Reports Temporarily Curtailed? [Congressional Research Search ]
· Computing at the Speed of Light [Reuters ]

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Florida's Corporate Tax Loophole

Sydney P. Freedberg of the St. Petersburg Times has a piece studying Florida's corporate income tax and those large companies that don't pay any, including Verizon and Carnival Corp. In fact, 98 percent of the estimated 1.5-million businesses in Florida paid nothing (last year). And many of those that did pay found ways to reduce their tax bills. At a time when Florida is scraping for every dollar to improve education, build roads and prisons and buy prescription drugs for the poor.
· Florida's corporate income tax is all but dead [SPTimes ]

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Politics Without Romance
Bureaucracies grow with no limit and no regard to promised functions. Pork-barrel dominates legislatures, tax systems are loophole systems. Public choice does little more than incorporate a rediscovery of this wisdom and its implications into economic analyses of modern politics.
· Wisdom [CIS ]
Taxman warns the rich: hardball time for dodgers
The high-wealth individuals taskforce - targeting about 650 people associated with about 15,000 entities - required some "higher risk taxpayers" to lodge expanded tax returns and others to provide financial statements.
· Risks [SMH ]
· Thanks From Corporate Tax Dodgers [TomPaine ]
· Avoidance Issues [Tom Paine]
· Three great Abrahamic traditions [CommonDreams ]
We're all in the money, but mind the gap
The rising tide has lifted everyone's boat though the rich have enjoyed extra buoyancy ...
· Gap Widened Noticeably [SMH ]

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Surviving on $11.80 an hour
They have been dubbed the working poor - close to 2 million Australian employees struggling to live on the official minimum wage of $11.80 an hour.
Now a trade union has launched a wide-ranging campaign to highlight the plight of workers left behind during the wages rush of the last decade.

· Bread struggle [SMH ]

Monday, October 27, 2003

Land of the Free? After South Korea ...
Press freedom in Australia has taken a battering in the past 12 months, according to the latest world rankings published by the international media monitoring organisation, Reporters Without Borders.
Australia plummeted from 12th place in the 2002 index of press freedom, Czechs and Slovaks moved to 12th place this year, to 50th this year, behind New Zealand in 17th, Britain (27th), the United States (31st) and South Korea (49th).

· Media restrictions given a black mark [SMH ]
Landlord class
Should the housing boom turn to bust, bankrupting some debt-laden property investors in the process, they will have one thing going for them. Renting an apartment is relatively cheap at the moment.
· Housing [SMH ]
False security banking on two incomes to keep the family out of debt

How surprising that the good sense shown by most Australian families in choosing to leave slack in the system to make time for their children may also be providing some with greater economic security.
· Families [ SMH]

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Political Diamond Quiz
You and I are told increasingly that we have to choose between a left or a right. There is only an up or down: up to man's age-old dream -- the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
· Separation of Powers and a system of Checks and Balances [Friesian ]
· Advance produces some mixture of gains and losses, benefits and harms. [TechCentral ]
Competition is the bane of the political classes
Over on the Adam Smith Institute blog, Madsen Pirie makes an excellent point about the joys of borders and the competition they bring:

In the US I like to cross state lines to go for the lower sales taxes and duties. It is reckoned that 'leakage' (cross border shopping) will be a significant factor if there is a 3 percentage point tax differential. And it's not only competition in sales and purchase taxes which works. I love French food and wine, and the priority they are given, but I don't feel the same way about their income tax and social insurance. The Danes do pickled fish on rye bread superbly, but there's no way I want to pay Danish taxes. I enjoy the Swedish forests and lakes, but not their government.

· Borders [AdamSmith ]
· Capital gains [Telegraph(UK) ]

Breaking the law
Glenn Reynolds, Professor of Law, has written a thoughtful article:
There are too many laws — many of them contradictory or obscure — for any person to actually avoid breaking the law completely. (My Criminal Law professor, when I was a law student, announced to us that we were all felons on the first day of class. There were too many felonies on the books for us not to be: Oral sex in Georgia? Oops!) And given that many laws are dumb, actually following all of them would probably bring society to a standstill, just as Air Traffic Controllers and pilots can make air travel grind to a halt by meticulously following every safety rule without exception.
The other problem is that law is like anything else: when the supply outstrips the demand, its value falls. If law were restricted to things like rape, robbery, and murder, its prestige would be higher. When we make felonies out of trivial crimes, though, the law loses prestige. As the old bumper stickers about the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit used to say: It’s not a good idea. It’s just the law.

· Instawisdom [ MSNBC]
Journalists overpaid? Nonsense!
Journalists are woefully underpaid. Financially, the profession cannot attract or retain the brightest university graduates. The average starting salary for a new J-school grad is $26,000, according to the annual survey done by the University of Georgia's Grady Collegr. Even the true believers, those motivated by the higher principles of journalism, are too often forced out by paychecks that can't be stretched to meet costs of living in our nation's pricier cities.
· But you can only abuse people so much [Tim Porter]

Friday, October 24, 2003

The Case for Unraveling: Win - Lose horizon
Descendent of the royal charter monopoly companies of the 17th and 18th centuries and emergent in its present legal form on the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the modern multinational corporation pulses with this ancestral DNA which guides the thoughts, words and actions of its CEO and Board of Directors.
· Early American presidents [ CommonDreams]

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Crooks may clean millions through pokies
Claims that millions of dollars are being laundered through poker machines in Sydney clubs are being investigated by the Department of Gaming and Racing.
· Laundering [SMH ]

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Sweet Reward: Taxing Times of Known World
He had never considered writing fiction full time before. Mr. Jones was the author of an acclaimed collection of short stories and the winner of a $50,000 literary prize, but he was also the son of an illiterate and impoverished mother. As a young man he lived briefly in a homeless shelter and learned to view a steady paycheck the same way that a drowning man might view a lifeline.
To think about being a writer was to think that I had the whole world, and I really didn't, and I knew I didn't," said Mr. Jones, 53, who spent nearly two decades proofreading and summarizing news items for Tax Notes, a trade magazine, before he was laid off in January 2002.
But he decided to dive into his first novel without much of a safety net. To his astonishment, his tale of a black slave owner, an aching and lyrical exploration of moral complexities, has become a literary sensation since its publication in August. Janet Maslin in The New York Times called that novel, "The Known World" (Amistad/HarperCollins), stunning. Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post hailed it as the best new American fiction to cross his desk in years.

· As a drowning man might view a lifeline [NY Times]

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The big baby-boom generation is starting to retire. Its oldest members are about 57 and will be 65 in 2011. There simply aren’t enough workers behind them in the labor supply pipeline to fill their jobs. Employers will have to try to retain older workers in some capacity or lure retired workers back into the work force. Companies that have treated their workers badly or engaged in even the subtlest forms of age discrimination will regret it. So will companies that just ignore the problem.
Who the hell do all these smug and self-satisfied baby boomers think is going to buy their already overpriced houses?

· Not If [NYTimes ]
· Australian Housing affordability [OLO - Russ Grayson]
· Australia's affordable housing crisis [OLO - Peter Verwer]
An Eight-Year-Old's Dream for Peace
The Moscow Ballet announced the winner of "My Dream for Peace," its national literary contest for children in grades K-6. Alexander Ivan Hess, 8, of Ebro, Florida -- who was adopted from a Ukrainian orphanage -- wrote about the opportunities peace can bring to children in his essay entitled, "My Dream".
I am Alexander Ivan Hess. When Moma and Papa were growing up there was a Cold War. American and Russian people were not friends. That war is over. I was born in Ukraine. I lived in Detsky Dom. I waited and waited for a family to come and get me. I cried and cried because I was afraid that my friends would leave with families then I would be there alone.
Finally my family came from America to get me and my little brother. If there was still a war, this would never happen. I even have a special dog named Shurik. He is from Moscow. If we were at war, I would not know Shurik.
My dream is that children around the world can be friends and have families who love them. I hope all wars will end so my dream can come true.

Alexander will be flown with a parent to Orlando, Florida, receiving hotel accommodations, dinner for two and other prizes. He will appear in a walk-on role in a Moscow Ballet production of Swan Lake along with the professional cast of top Russian artists. The contest's theme of Peace and Harmony is the subject of the 2003 tour of the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker.
Inspiration Point: Wars arise from a failure to understand one another's humanness. Instead of summit meetings, why not have families meet for a picnic and get to know each other while the children play together?"
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama (via Gianna)
What Alabama's Low-Tax Mania Can Teach the Rest of the Country
The budget ax is swinging in Alabama, and the carnage is piling up. High Hopes, a program that offers after-school tutoring to students who fail the high school graduation exam, is being slashed. And up to 1,500 poor children and adults with Down syndrome, autism and other disabilities will not be able to attend a state-supported special-needs camp.
The cuts are reaching down to core government functions. The court system is laying off 500 of 1,600 workers, from clerk's office employees to probation officers. The health department is losing investigators who track tuberculosis, and sharply reducing restaurant inspections.

· Lessons [NYTImes ]
Overcapacity Stalls New Jobs
· Taxing Economy [ NYTimes]
· Crackdown on Tax Cheats Not Working, Panel Says [ NYTimes]

Monday, October 20, 2003

· Nation reflects EU-wide disparity when it comes to women's pay
[Prague Post]
Best Practice GuideStar to Build Charity Registry
GuideStar, familiar to many reporters and researchers as a source of information on non-profit organizations, has been awarded a federal grant "to develop a one-step registration system that will save charities millions of dollars and permit more efficient state oversight." This sounds like good news, even if it will take two years to complete. (Thanks to Scoop & Jim Wilkerson for the pointer.)
· Charity Begins Virtually [BusinessWire ]
The State Opposition leader, John Brogden, has called on the Carr Government to go further in extending GST relief to clubs, as the sparring on the fairness of the controversial pokies tax.
· Pokies [ SMH]

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Deflation 2004AD Reserve Mon(k)ey
Prime Minister John Howard has warned people against taking out big mortgages amid fears that the housing bubble will burst soon and predictions of higher interest rates within months.
Investors can write off rental losses against tax and since 1999 pay tax on only half the capital gain when they sell. That, along with historically low interest rates and relaxed lending practices have encouraged the investment surge.

· What A Mess Come May 2004 [Age, The]
Ding to a New Study?!
Tall people earn considerably more money throughout their lives than their shorter co-workers, with each inch adding about $789 a year in pay, according to a new study. If this is true, I should make a killing! Hmmmm..... At 6'3, I disagree, while Bill Gates is smiling all the way to his huge Library Room
· Height does matters for career success [Yahoo ]
Poverty Brackets
Whether you are in a poverty trap on $21,000 or a $31,000 [income] family paying very high effective marginal tax rates, or someone on $65,000 who has worked hard, got through uni and got into a decent professional job, maybe in the public service, and you are paying a top marginal tax rate, these are all disincentive effects that are a long-term problem for the Australian economy.
· Disincentives [SMH ]

Friday, October 17, 2003

Our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King

The Two-Income Trap: Going broke over Lattes
Today's two-income family has 75 percent more earnings, inflation adjusted, than their parents had a generation ago. The reason, of course, is because today's average family has two people in the workforce, instead of one. But this year, more children will live through their parents' bankruptcy than their parents' divorce.
What they discovered shocked even themselves: the effort to keep the kids in a good school district when one parent is laid-off is the main factor driving Americans into bankruptcy court, not all those trips to the Niketown store.

· Foreclosures: Silent Shame [Salon ]
· Wealthy bosses have good reason to worry [SMH ]
Partnerships, Community and Local Governance
Papers include: Limits to Local Governance: Lessons From the UK (Professor Mike Geddes, University of Warwick), Partnerships and Local Governance: Some Lessons from European Innovations (Professor Mark Considine, Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne) and Enhancing Diversity: Managing Partnerships with the State (Professor Paul Smyth and Dr Tim Reddel, University of Queensland)
· International Perspectives and Australian Experiences [ UNIMelbourne]
Why Delaware is a Corporation Magnet
According to a forthcoming study that attempts to explain why public companies choose to incorporate where they do, very few California public companies choose to incorporate in California. Stephen Bainbridge asks "Why doesn't California retain incorporations?"
Delaware's strength is its wealth of published judicial decisions applying its corporate law to real world factual situations. Even the clearest statute is of limited use to a practitioner, as the real world is infinitely more varied than any statute. It's only by applying a statute to the real world over time that the statute takes on a life, assumes certain habits, develops a personality and, in a word, becomes predictable.

· Why California is more unpopular with public companies headquartered in California [CorpLawBlog ]
Research council studies fuel tax
A branch of the National Research Council has begun a study of whether fuel taxes are the best way to pay for the nation's highways. The Transportation Research Board study comes as Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is pushing to raise more money for highway work nationwide. Young, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, has suggested a number of alternatives, including an increase in the gasoline tax that provides the bulk of federal highway money. The federal gasoline tax is 18.3 cents per gallon. Alaska's is 8 cents per gallon, the lowest in the nation. The average for states is 22.
· Options [Peninsula Clarion]

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Australian roulette
Property developers are not known for their revolutionary dialectic. So when a successful member of this supra-entrepreneurial group predicted, at a dinner held by one of the nation's top legal firms, that Australia was about to go the way of France in 1789 I took notice. "Income disparities are so out of whack in this country it will be the French Revolution all over again," he said. I waited for the smirk. It never came.
If the wealthy are worried it is little wonder that even a conservative government is legislating in response to community concern over stratospheric corporate incomes.

· Wealthy bosses have good reason to worry
[SMH ]
Face it, I'll never be rich: My surname is just loaded with Irony
Why do migrants still believe in the rags-to-riches fairy tale? In this final extract from his explosive new book, Michael Moore explains why the corporate bosses will never let the new world dream become a reality
· Less is Moore [The Guardian(UK)]
Grover Norquist is indeed influential in the White House
The Americans for Tax Reform is a significant tax policy group; I'm hoping Norquist is an aberration and not the norm. Norquist should apologize or resign.
· Self Interest [Tax Policy]
Pro Activism
Some people believe that social movements are fueled by misery—that communities only start standing up for themselves when things get really bad. It's an appealing thought in difficult times. However, fear is historically a lousy engine of solidarity. Progress and optimism go hand in hand. When people are hopeful about the future, they are inclined to demand positive change.
But if the misery theory is wrong, so is the belief that activism dies when the going gets tough. Few progressives doubt that the past two years have been the most politically trying in recent memory. Nevertheless, union members, globalization activists, immigrant rights advocates and anti-war groups have persevered. This fall, just when we need some good news, those of us concerned with social and economic justice can see a remarkable number of our efforts bear fruit.

· Fruits []